Jonah and The Whale is arguably one of the most criticized stories in the Bible. And, seldom does anyone remember anything about Jonah past his three days in the belly of a beast and something about a rowdy group of Ninevites. “Poor Jonah,” we’d say. “That dude spent three days in a whale.” At a glance, Jonah’s story is just another example of God assigning a large task and his prophet running the other direction. But I think God was doing more than using Jonah to warn the city of Nineveh to change its corrupt ways; He was also using Nineveh’s eventual repentance to show Jonah just how judgmental and unmerciful his own heart was.
God had COMPASSION: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.” (Jonah 3:10- 4:1 NIV).
Kind of a surprising response from a man who was just spared being digested from a large mammal, right?
In many ways, you can draw connections between Jonah and The Parable of the Lost Son (or The Parable of the Older Son, as I like to put it!). How often do you see the lack of mercy in the character that holds the “upper hand”? What factor(s) seem to push these two characters so far as to make them think they have been wronged? And to whom do they actually direct their anger towards?
Too often, we arrange our lifestyles and perspectives in a manner that causes us to feel as if we constantly deserve something, whether it is a better job, bigger house, or a tropical vacation. Let us not forget the Father’s words: “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are ALWAYS with me, and everything I have is yours.'” (Luke 15:31 NIV).
Devotional Author: Kate Anderson